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Religious Literacy: Americans Don't Know Much About Religion

Posted by on Sep. 28, 2010 at 12:31 PM
  • 11 Replies

 

Quote:

A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.

More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.

The survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life aimed to test a broad range of religious knowledge, including understanding of the Bible, core teachings of different faiths and major figures in religious history. The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the developed world, especially compared to largely secular Western Europe, but faith leaders and educators have long lamented that Americans still know relatively little about religion.

Respondents to the survey were asked 32 questions with a range of difficulty, including whether they could name the Islamic holy book and the first book of the Bible, or say what century the Mormon religion was founded. On average, participants in the survey answered correctly overall for half of the survey questions.

Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers, while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.

Not surprisingly, those who said they attended worship at least once a week and considered religion important in their lives often performed better on the overall survey. However, level of education was the best predictor of religious knowledge. The top-performing groups on the survey still came out ahead even when controlling for how much schooling they had completed.

On questions about Christianity, Mormons scored the highest, with an average of about eight correct answers out of 12, followed by white evangelicals, with an average of just over seven correct answers. Jews, along with atheists and agnostics, knew the most about other faiths, such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Less than half of Americans know that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, and less than four in 10 know that Vishnu and Shiva are part of Hinduism.

The study also found that many Americans don't understand constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools. While a majority know that public school teachers cannot lead classes in prayer, less than a quarter know that the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that teachers can read from the Bible as an example of literature.

"Many Americans think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are tighter than they really are," Pew researchers wrote.

The survey of 3,412 people, conducted between May and June of this year, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, while the margins of error for individual religious groups was higher.

____

Online:

Pew online quiz about religion: http://features.pewforum.org/quiz/us-religious-knowledge


 

by on Sep. 28, 2010 at 12:31 PM
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Replies (1-10):
LoveMyBoyK
by Ruby Member on Sep. 28, 2010 at 12:34 PM
Wow, yikes. That is a pretty telling!!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
AmmuJSE
by Ammu on Sep. 28, 2010 at 12:38 PM

already answered this in the other post...

14/15

Muslim 

& who is charles finney? I've never heard of him before. 

ETA:

Oh I guess he's a big one :P 

Charles Grandison Finney (August 29, 1792 – August 16, 1875) was a Presbyterian and Congregationalist figure in the Second Great Awakening. His influence during this period was enough that he has been called The Father of Modern Revivalism.[1]

Finney was known for his innovations in preaching and religious meetings such as having women pray in public meetings of mixed gender, development of the "anxious seat", a place where those considering becoming Christians could come to receive prayer, and public censure of individuals by name in sermons and prayers.[2] He was also known for his use of extemporaneous preaching.

Next time you think all Muslims are evil, murderous, war craving lunatics, Remember these faces.

Kaelansmom
by on Sep. 28, 2010 at 12:39 PM

 *shakes head* damn.

ecagle
by Kegel on Sep. 28, 2010 at 12:46 PM

 Ok, I'm gonna take the test.  I'm a non-religious God believing (in a "different" way...most like a power that takes on many faces...) person who grew up LDS. 

AMom29
by Gold Member on Sep. 28, 2010 at 12:47 PM

 I didn't realize this was posted already -- I only looked at the first page, thinking this would've done blowed up on here this morning.  :)

SamanthaAgain
by Sam on Sep. 28, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Grrrrr.  It had trouble loading, and I had to refresh a couple times, then it said I didn't answer over half of them.  I'll try again later, maybe the server is just busy.

ecagle
by Kegel on Sep. 28, 2010 at 1:02 PM

 I got 14/15 BUT, the quiz actually got an answer wrong.  The options for "nirvana" included Buddhism and Hinduism and the concept is actually in BOTH religions....I put down Hinduism because Nirvana in Buddhism is also commonly referred to as "Enlightenment"...

Anyways:

 

Nirvana

Nirvana is the supreme state free from suffering and individual existence. It is a state Buddhists refer to as "Enlightenment". It is the ultimate goal of all Buddhists. The attainment of nirvana breaks the otherwise endless rebirth cycle of reincarnation. Buddhists also consider nirvana as freedom from all worldly concerns such as greed, hate, and ignorance. No one can describe in words what nirvana is. It can only be experienced directly.

Nirvana

Nirvana is the supreme state free from suffering and individual existence. It is a state often referred to as "self realization" or "God realization". It’s the ultimate religious goal of all Hindus. The attainment of nirvana breaks the otherwise endless rebirth cycle of transmigration. Hindus call this nirvana "eternal bliss". However, no one can describe in words what nirvana is. It can only be experienced directly.

AND

 

OhiogirlinCali
by on Sep. 28, 2010 at 1:13 PM

 I got 12/15... you learn something new every day... :)

Goodwoman614
by Satan on Sep. 28, 2010 at 1:16 PM

atheists scored the highest..in my experience this has been true

DVD
by on Sep. 28, 2010 at 2:26 PM


Quoting Goodwoman614:

atheists scored the highest..in my experience this has been true

yes, it is a common miss conception that because atheists dont believe they dont know...the complete opposite is true.They know, therefore they don't believe.

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